Taking Stock

Ok, I feel better now. My two weeks of self pity are over. I've taken stock and this is my inventory:
  • My brains, talent, and health are intact.
  • I have a fabulous and supportive family, plus my parents are still alive
  • Two wonderful 'adopted' boys are living with me - they need me and I need them.
  • I've adopted a sweet, loyal, and loving dog.
  • My once in a lifetime miracle job keeps me energized, interested, and interesting.
  • Good luck comes my way time and again. (A local newspaper wants me to elaborate on an article I wrote for a university publication.)
  • I have as many friends as I can possibly want.
The only missing item is a mate, but at this stage of my life I am not so sure I want one. I've tried dating only to discover that I rather like my independent lifestyle. Besides, it's so exhausting to meet new men.

Next week would have been my 35th wedding anniversary. I realized as I looked at my old wedding pictures with a niece who is getting married this fall that the happiness I felt on my wedding day remains undiminished. When I look at the ecstatic glow on that fresh young face I realized that no one can take away that wonderful memory. Just days after my wedding I moved to a new city, away from family and friends, and it took three years for me to become adjusted to my new situation. But adjust I did, and then happiness came my way again.

It's been almost seven years since my divorce, and the pain of that event keeps receding. Oh, sure I dread being alone in my old age, and I still have spurts of intense anger (witness the previous two posts) but marriage is no guarantee that your spouse will be around, no matter how happily married you are. So I am going to keep taking stock whenever anger robs me of my contentment. When I itemize all that I still have I realize that for the most part life is still good.


Working and aging

It's been hard lately to write about the divorce. I've been so busy, you see. Like anyone who's divorced after fifty, unless you are rich, you need to work for a living. I was one of the lucky ones. After almost three decades of marriage and play acting at having a job - part time jobs, and selling my watercolors on the side - I found a job with benefits. I work as a specialist on a grant project at a local university and receive state benefits.

It turns out that my talents suit my job perfectly and I have managed to get promotions and maintain my position for eight years. After the divorce I got the house, but, except for Bob's social security benefits, I had no pension and nothing saved up for a rainy day. So, I estimate that I will have to work until I am 70 before I can think about retiring.

However, will my health allow it? I suffer from asthma, a bad back, and rising sugar levels in my blood. And there's another thing that we baby boomers are beginning to notice: We're not as fast mentally as we used to be.

When I began my job I could multitask with the best of them. I learned new skills with rapid fire speed. I could recall what each file contained and where I put it. But that is the case no longer. The change in the past two years is dramatic. I would worry that these are the beginning symptoms of Alzheimer's if my fellow baby boomer colleagues weren't experiencing the same symptoms. We're starting to grasp for the right word or phrase, and if someone interrupts our conversation, we'll forget our topic as often as not.

Aside from the physical signs of aging and mental slowdown, I seem to have less spare time. I've taken classes (simply to keep up with current research and technology) almost every year since I began working and this year is no exception. And my parents are aging and can no longer make the three hour drive to see me, which means that (ideally) I should go to see them two weekends a month. This leaves me very little time for socializing or for paying attention to my yard and house. My neglected friends are falling to the wayside and my house is looking a mess. Literally.

At fifty I could work eight hours a day and come home and then would go right out and shop or exercise or do yard work. No longer. Now nearing sixty, I come home and I'm lucky to have the energy to clean up after dinner. I need my rest. So the thought of working well into old age and competing with the young Turks who have boundless energy not only seems daunting, but may become impossible in my high powered position with its frequent need for overtime, week end work, and out of town travel. The way things are going I will be lucky to work at this level of intensity for another five years. But here is the problem: I need my health benefits now more than ever.

I heard Bob is going for early retirement, which means that he will leave his faculty position next year, 20 years after getting tenure. On the days when I drag my tired body into the house and plop myself onto a sofa unable to move I actually despise him.

Self portrait two years ago at the office just before we moved into fancier digs.